The number of historic racing cars that continues to increase event after event, drivers coming from all over the world plus more car clubs, exhibitors and activities all confirm the undeniable growth of Le Mans Classic since its creation in 2002. This biennial event, an exceptional mega-sized retrospective of the history of the iconic 24-Hours race, always jointly organised by Peter Auto and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, has fired the enthusiasm of a growing number of collectors who come to take advantage of this unique opportunity to race on the big Le Mans circuit. And, of course, the same goes for the public who flocked to the event in even greater numbers than at previous Le Mans Classics as proved by a new attendance record of 195 000 spectators, all generations combined, present at this weekend’s races. Patrick Peter : “We’re managing to develop Le Mans Classic to offer the public new activities. This year, the arrival of the Global Endurance Legends enabled us to extend our retrospective until 2010.
Exceptional weather, 24 hours retracing the history of the greatest endurance race in the world over the period 1923-1993, 550 cars on the track, 1000 drivers, 10 former winners of the 24 Hours including the latest, Romain Dumas, the eagerly-awaited Group C event and the Jaguar Classic Challenge racing for the first time as curtain-raisers, 8500 cars representing 180 makes’ clubs, the celebration of BMW’s centenary and the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40’s first victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Concours Le Mans Heritage Club, Little Big Mans, the F.F.V.E.’s special exhibition devoted to racing team transporters, the long list of exhibitors and the entertainment and activities in the village meant that all the right ingredients were in place to make this huge celebration of motor sport, following in the tradition of the previous events, an even bigger success as proved by the fact that having attracted a crowd of 110 000 spectators in 2014, no fewer than 123 000 people flocked to the Le Mans circuit.
The 7th Le Mans Classic, still co-organised by Peter Auto and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, kept improving and the 110 000-spectator barrier was broken. The weather also smiled on the event on Friday and a blue sky and high temperatures greeted the people who arrived for the early-morning opening of the gates of the circuit. Thus, the spectators who had already flocked to the circuit were able to enjoy the village and its numerous sideshows and exhibitions to the full. These included the Le Mans Heritage Club, the major French coachbuilders, the Technological Innovations, the many clubs (180 car clubs representing around 80 makes with 8 000 cars), and later on in the evening the new Drive-In cinema whose theme was the motor car with classic films like Un Homme et Une Femme, Bullitt, Le Mans et Weekend of a Champion. 450 historic cars on track and more than 1 000 drivers from all over the world (30 plus nationalities) including seven former Le Mans 24-Hours winners.
Le Mans Classic celebrated its 6th edition between sunny spells and many showers which didn’t succeed in spoiling the overall atmosphere and pleasure of the participants – public, drivers, mini Little Big Mans drivers, clubs, auction and the GTOs welcomed by extremely heavy rain (a tribute from the skies they could have done without)… – or the success of this sixth edition won by the team n° 5. The fickle weather didn’t discourage the spectators as the numbers went from over 96 000 in 2010 to 109 000 this year. The drivers braved impressive downpours and the 450 racing cars put on an incredible show. With fewer collisions than in previous editions raced in dry conditions; our drivers are definitely very sensible. The English and the Germans dominated but the third place in the overall classification is 100% French. 8 000 club cars spent their time putting on and taking off their raincoats as did the ones displayed in the Le Mans Heritage Club whereas the public and the jury members defied the rain to admire them. Le Mans Classic 2012 with its American theme certainly held its promises, exceeding all expectations!
Former years’ success is definitely confirmed: 100 000 spectators; 8 000 club cars, becoming now the biggest car gathering in the world; 470 racing cars; around 1,000 drivers and 100; or nearly Little Big Mans budding drivers. On the track no major incidents among the drivers, for the most of them amateurs making a child dream come true. Team 21 was the winner of this fifth event, followed on the podium by teams 65 & 69. Le Mans Classic was also the former Le Mans stars’ meeting point with over 40 ex-Le Mans drivers and 100 ex-Le Mans racers, including the Art Cars displayed by BMW. But it was also the time to perform for the future Le Mans challengers since brand new Citroën electric concept car was for the first time run -by Vanina Ickx- on a racetrack! As for the Clubs, the Jury, presided over by brilliant designer Jean Pierre Ploué, architect of Citroën renewed design, has awarded the 1937 Adler Super Trumpf as the “Best of Show” of those 24 former Le Mans racers gathered in the Mans Heritage Club. The clubs’ “Best of Show” prize went to the Club Renault Histoire; whilst the TVR Car Club de France was honoured for its tribute to the Swordfish movie. A success also for Hervé Poulain and the new Artcurial Motorcars team: 6 million Euros and 75% of the cars sold… Without forgetting the most unpredictable weekend star, we mean the Sun and a temperature average of 32°C!
Fourth edition for Le Mans Classic; consecration year: the event gathers some 100,000 spectators, becoming the largest classic car event in France, and one of the most important in the world.Four Le Mans style starts, given by renowned guests: Buzz Aldrin, Felipe Massa, Robert Gendebien… under the eye of Jean Todt and other motor sports personalities. One of the biggest successes of Le Mans Classic 2008 is without doubt the Little Big Mans grid. In a dedicated paddock, alongside their “big sisters” of the competition grids, seventy mini-cars were gathered during the whole week-end. On Saturday, just before 3 pm, the straight stretch in front of the stands awaited the children for a totally new Le Mans Style start to the applause of a conquered public. Once again, the car clubs were present and paid particular care to the presentation of their models exhibited to the public.
The time machine is getting carried away and Le Mans Classic is officially in the big league. Art is still omnipresent, this time with a ephemeral BMW livery made by the factory. Thus, famous French auctionner and driver Hervé Poulain will take the start of this third edition with a BMW 30 CSL “Calder” such as the one entered in the 24 Hours in 1975. Regulars Nick Mason and Mark Knopfler will be there as will François Fillon who wouldn’t miss Le Mans Classic for anything . This edition is American! We celebrate the triple victory of Ford at Le Mans with the presence of the 3 cars of the podium in 1966. The American team Auriana allows Phil Hill to relive victory on the Le Mans circuit. Without forgetting the “Team 31” who, in advance on its time, ran 6 cars on green carburant. Without doubt the dawn of a new era opened by the Total Team… The “Le Mans Heritage Club” now replaces the “Le Mans 24H Club” and moves to the heart of the circuit’s brand-new village.
Dithyrambic media review and grapevine has worked well: Le Mans Classic really takes off during this second edition… The start, always an exciting moment, was given by seven previous winners of the 24 Hours who –excepting the regretted Maurice Trintignant- took part in the race: Jürgen Barth, Jean Guichet, Johnny Herbert, Phil Hill, Jean Pierre Jaussaud and Henri Pescarolo. Among the driving personalities; Mark Knopfler, Adrian Newey and the first participation of the man who was to become First Minister to Nicolas Sarkozy, François Fillon. A new record is broken with the highest bid in a European auction for the Bentley Speed 6 built in 1930 and winner at Le Mans the same year. The Clubs and Le Mans 24H Club (to become the Le Mans Heritage Club) pay tribute to Panhard for the first edition contests takeoff.
“Le Mans Classic has become an important part of the Le Mans History” (French regional newspaper Le Maine Libre). The first edition of Le Mans Classic is without doubt a success. There is no need any longer to search through photographic archives as for the time of a weekend, the 24 Hours history is reconstituted. Famous drivers such as Bobby Rahal and Brian Redman crossed the Atlantic to relive their 24 Hours. Elected “2002 Event of the year” at the Festival International de l’Automobile, Le Mans Classic is approved by the media and nominated “Best Historic Motor Racing Event” by respected British magazine Classic & Sportscars. Le Mans Classic is listed in the directory of the French “Patrimony Days”, tribute of the Ministery of Culture to Automobile.